Can You Paint The Outside of a Mobile Home? YES! (For Most Parks)!
A great way to update your mobile home exterior (and impress your neighbors) is to simply paint it! You would be surprised the difference a proper paint job brings to your home. It hides any small imperfections and brings a clean and polished look that will make your home look brand new.
The outside of your home comes under considerably more pressure from the elements and therefore it’s extra important that you not only prepare properly but do a high-quality paint job. Paint is your home’s first layer of protection, so to speak. In this article, we will cover how to prepare various kinds of walls, how to pick the right paint and then run you through the painting process step-by-step.
A coat of paint is only as good as the surface it’s on.
Depending on the type of wall or siding your mobile home’s exterior is made of you will need to prep it differently. If you prepare the exterior improperly, not only will the painting process harder, but you might be very disappointed with the result.
You should also do some repair work before getting started. Walls in a state of disrepair lower the quality of your coat of paint, and any attempted repair work after painting will definitely ruin your beautiful new exterior!
What You Should Know Before Paining Your Aluminium Siding
Depending on its state, aluminum siding can be the hardest type of wall to prep. Check the aluminum panels for any missing screws, rust damage and whether the paint has gone chalky and powdery. You will need to fix all three of these before painting. But before that list, here are some quick tips from those guys at This Old House.
- Missing screws: Check the corners and borders of all the aluminum panels for screw/nail holes especially where panels meet. Replace the nails/screws without denting the panels.
- Rust damage: Typical areas where this occurs are any nooks and crannies where water can collect. Check the corners of the panels and the roof, where panels meet and where panels are fastened with nails/screws. If any panels are too badly damaged, replace them completely. You can use a detergent containing TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove the rust stains.
- Chalk/powder: Simply run your hand over the paint. If a powdery substance comes off, don’t be alarmed. This powdery substance acts as a self-cleaner for the siding. Also, use a detergent containing TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove the chalking.
When dealing with the three issues above, a power washer will be your best friend. It will quickly and effectively wash the powdery layer away and is a good idea for any type of surface cleaning. They are also not too expensive to rent out.
Although not strictly needed, we strongly recommend priming aluminum siding with a 100% acrylic primer. This will make your coat of paint look much better and last much longer.
What You Should Know Before Painting Your Vinyl Siding.
Vinyl siding may develop mold or mildew. Both can be washed with a good home detergent and some scrubbing. As mentioned above, a power washer might also be ideal if it is within your budget.
If there are holes or cracks in your vinyl siding, you will need to repair these first. Remember that a coat of paint is only as strong as the surface beneath it. Most small cracks or holes can be fixed with some adhesive caulk and your own fingers. If the damage is more extensive you might need to replace the affected strip/s. Here is an easy-to-follow guide on how to do just that.
Just like aluminum siding, you will also need to prime your vinyl wall. Again we recommend you use a 100% acrylic primer. It is also not a good idea to go for the cheapest product you can find. Splurging a little will insure long time satisfaction.
What You Should Know Before Paining Your Wood Paneling Siding.
You will need to do the same checks for wood siding as for vinyl siding. Check for moss or mildew build up. In the case of wood, it might not be as easy as washing them off. You will need to check whether the wood has started to rot and become porous. If the wood is rotten, you will be able to break parts off. Doesn’t sound like the ideal surface to paint, does it?
Depending on the damage you might also need to replace entire pieces of wood siding or just repair the affected areas. Luckily this isn’t too hard. In simple steps this is what you need to do:
- Scrape away all the loose parts of wood so that you are left with a more or less solid base.
- Buy some wood hardener and wood filler, there should be instructions on their respective packets on mixing them.
- Use a putty knife or any scraping tool and fill the hole with the mixture. It is generally better to “overfill” the area so there is a slight bulge.
- Finally just sand down the area where you applied the filler so that it is the same level as the rest of the wood.
- Just to be safe, prime all the spots.
Wood is one of the hardest surfaces for paint to stick to. This makes wood the most important surface on this list to prime before painting. Some time ago there were only slow-drying oil-based primers. These are still the most effective but they take up to 24 hours to dry before you can paint.
If you don’t want to wait this long, nowadays there are faster drying oil and latex-based products that are very reliable.
Wash Those Painted Walls First.
Before you do anything properly wash the wall. Except for collecting dust paint can become powdery with time, this will cause your next coat of paint to not stick. If your new paint color is similar to the current coat of paint you don’t really need to prime the wall. If the colors are different try this:
Use a primer or a basic white matte emulsion as the first layer. If the old paint is really dark you might want to paint two base layers. It is also much cheaper than painting 2 or 3 coats of the more expensive color paint.
Also, beware of any peeling or cracks that might have developed on the previous coat of paint. You will need to fill these spots up and sand them down as well as prime them even before applying another layer of primer or base paint. If you are worried about an uneven finish you will need to sand down and prime the whole wall.
If the paint seems very old you should check whether it contains lead. Since 1978 lead has been banned from being used in household paint for various health concerns. Removing lead paint can be risky so follow this thorough guide.
What will you need?
Before you get started, make sure you have everything in the list! Some of these are optional but will definitely make your job much easier. It is better to finish a paint job in one go so don’t take the chance to have to drive to the store halfway, it’s better to overstock than understock. You can find handy online checklists to make sure you have everything.
- Tape measure – Use measuring tape beforehand to make sure of the area of the house. It will never work out perfectly, but at least you can ensure you don’t run out of paint or buy way too much.
- Drop cloths – Just like you want to protect your furniture inside, you want to protect your yard outside. You can choose either plastic or reusable canvas drop cloth. Just make sure to use a thick, durable dropcloth if thorny plants are involved. If you are low on cash you can also use black refuse bags to cover smaller areas, outside lights/fixtures, etc.
- Cleaning equipment – There is no right way to clean the wall. You can use anything from rags to sponges to a pressure washer, all depending on your budget and preference. For hand cleaning, some sponges are recommended to clean dust from the walls. Also, remember the TSP solution for aluminum walls or a home detergent for vinyl/painted/wood walls. If you use TSP you must use plastic gloves to protect your skin.
- Primer – Depending on the type of wall:
- Aluminum or Vinyl: 100% acrylic primer
- Wood: Old oil-based or new oil/latex based primer.
- Paint: Any good primer. It is optional to prime painted walls.
- Blue painters tape – You can also use white masking tape or duct tape, but blue painters tape usually sticks well without being too hard to remove. Bonus tip: Shop around for a masking tool if you don’t want to completely by hand.
- Duster brush – To brush off dust before painting.
- Angled sash painter’s brush – Use these guys to finish off corners and hard to reach areas easily and neatly.
- Painting equipment – Of course, you can’t do any painting without at least one of these! Here are your options:
- Paint sprayer: You can hire one cheaply or buy one. This is definitely the quickest and easiest way to paint large surfaces. Just remember to do a good masking job beforehand else everything will be covered in paint! There is a whole bunch of items you need to do a proper job so consult a professional beforehand.
- Roller: The paint roller is the second best option and still much faster than a brush. Get a thinner nap for smoother surfaces and a thicker nap for rougher ones. Also, invest in a pole to stick your roller on for high up. You will also need a roller tray.
- Brush: It will take a very long time to paint the whole exterior with a brush, but the choice is yours. It’s a good idea to get some smaller brushes for finishing off work.
- Paint – see the following section on how to choose your paint.
Some extras you can get to make your life easier:
- Pouring spout – Easily pour paint into roller trays or other buckets without spilling.
- Screen – To wipe brushes on over the bucket after dipping.
- Extra buckets – To mix paint colors if it is part of your plan or to simply place used items in.
- Knife/scissors – It is much easier to cut through tape than tear or bite it.
- Nylon thistle – brush and mineral spirits or thinner lacquer – This is to clean your brushes or roller afterward.
- Screwdrivers – You might need to remove some shutters/lights if they are too hard to cover up.
How to pick your paint. The best part.
Firstly go look at ideas online of what other people have done when painting their mobile home exteriors. Usually, home exteriors are painted lighter colors to make homes look inviting. It is also important to take any porches, shutters or fixtures into account.
What do you want to paint the same color? What do you want to paint differently? What are good color combinations?
The surface of your walls also plays an important role. Here is a quick guide:
- Aluminum: Valspar Anti-Rust Armor Enamel Spray Paint or Behr Premium Direct to Metal Semi-Gloss Paint are good examples.
- Vinyl: VinySafe by Sherman Williams and Regal Select Exterior Revive are good options.
- Wood: Generally acrylic or latex flat paints are the best for painting wood. If you used a good primer though it doesn’t matter too much. Here is an ultimate guide to picking paint for wood.
- Painted walls: It doesn’t really matter as long as the wall is prepared. You can never go wrong with a good latex though!
Remember that your exterior walls handle a lot of pressure from mother nature, so don’t try and save cents by going for cheaper paints. If your wall is prepared properly and primed any good latex should do. These paints are very durable and popular and mobile home owners.
The 3 common exterior finishes:
- Flat: Hides imperfections well, but is not very durable and gets soiled fast.
- Satin: Is in between dull and shiny. It is the most popular exterior finish. It is also more durable than flat. You will need two different shades to offset each other or risk a very one-dimensional look.
- Gloss: Gloss finish is by far the toughest and easiest to clean, but the shininess makes it reflect light highlighting any imperfections. If you use it for large surfaces it will make your house appear “plastic” so better keep it for door and window frames or porch railings.
Take note of these tips before you begin.
- Make sure that everything that should not be painted or will be painted a different color than your walls is covered. Wrap lights or other fixtures in refuse bags and tape them up. Cover windows/doors as well as their frames with drop cloths and tape. Also, remember to cover the roof overhangs although it should be easy to avoid. Also, cover any porch floors or railings unless they are to be painted the same.
- Place drop cloths on the ground beneath the walls or over any plants that need protection. As it will take a while to paint an area move the drop cloths with you instead of buying too many.
- Only paint on sunny days. Rain will ruin your coat and force you to start over. Sunny dry weather will also lead to quicker drying times.
- Paint from the top down. It will save you the trouble of worrying over drips of paint drying on your walls.
Before you go
This page covers every method of preparation, painting, and cleanup in extreme detail. Refer to it of there is anything you are unsure of.
Give your home a proper and high-quality paint job and it will reward you with admiring neighbors, durability and increased value. Doing this once 100% is definitely a worthwhile investment. So what are you waiting for? Get painting!